2009 - travel videosTweet
Bands are dotted around the town many playing tents others, like this one, playing on the steps of local buildings through the town. An Irish band played in a tent on the opposite of the street from where this band was playing.
An abundance of music, including Guggenmusik, is an essential, effervescent and highly enjoyable part of the Fêtes des Vendanges and it really adds to the atmosphere of the place.
View from the train across the Tibetan plateau
Hangzhou - 2009 eclipse totality
Totality at Hangzhou was somewhat of a let down with clouds obscuring the eclipse throughout. We didn't even see any of the partial phases.
This was, however, the darkest eclipse I've been present for.
It's a real shame that the longest eclipse of our lives was clouded out - but that's the way it goes. Hopefully it'll be better for the 2012 eclipse in Queensland.
Leshan - video clip of the Giant Buddha
The Grand Buddha at Leshan is one of the highlights of our trip to China. Standing at 71 meters in height - it's the tallest statue of Buddha in the world after the Bamyan Buddhas were destroyed by the Taliban in 2001.
Whats amazing, apart from the sheer scale of the statue, is that the statue was carved in Red Sandstone - which is very vulnerable to the elements. An extensive drainage system and that the statue is set in the cliff face (rather than on) it have helped to preseve this wonderful place of pilgrmage.
Several carvings dot the cliff face along the steps to the feet of Buddha - which is where he is most imposing.
From the boat it's possible to really appreciate the size and scale of the project undertaken 1,300 years ago.
Lhasa - façade of the Potala Palace
The Potala Palace in Lhasa is probably one of the worlds most iconic and distinctive buildings. Thirteen stories in two palaces (the Red Palace for religous affairs and White Palace for political affairs) sit atop a hill.
Comprised of 1,000 rooms, 10,000 shrines and 200,000 statues, the Potala Palace was the primary residence of the Dalai Lama until the 14th Dalai Lama fled into exile in Dharamsala, India.
Chengdu - video clip of the Wenshu Temple
One of the best preserved temples in China, six beautiful halls are aligned on an axis through the temple complex. The Temple is also home to an excellent vegetarian restaurant, gardens and tea rooms - which are an excellent way to wile away some hours.
Although one of the main tourist spots in Chengdu, most of the visitors where local Chinese visitors which gave us a sense that we were visiting "real" China. Many locals visited with their families and children - the kids seemed fascinated by the "strangers in town."
Shanghai Maglev - high speed journey to Shanghai Airport
The Maglev or Magnetic Levitation train runs from the suburbs of Shanghai to Shanghai Pudong Airport at speeds upto 431 kph. This view is from an early evening train where speed restrictions apply - but we did reach a top speed of 300 kph.
It's amazing to travel at such speeds without a driver or seat belts and, at times, somewhat unnerving - especially when running alongside the motorway and cars appear to be going backwards.
Chengdu - cubs playing at the Breeding and Research Centre
We we fortunate enough to see these three cubs playing together at our visit to the Chengdu Panda Research and Breeding Centre.
The centre is, pretty much, Chengdus answer to the Eiffel Tower as its biggest tourist draw. But its definately worth the visit.
Visiting before 10:00 am (shortly after feeding time) and, preferably, before the temprature reaches 24 degrees centigrade when Pandas prefer to sleep indoors. The centre is home to both adult and cub pandas as well as the "Red Panda" which is a much smaller bear.
Basel - Politics and Piccolos: Morgenstreich at Basler Fasnacht 2009
Morgenstreich kicks off 72-hours of festivities at 4am on Monday morning with a procession of lanterns and piccolo players through the streets of Basels Old Town. Cold Feburary mornings aren't usually very appealing but get to to Marktplatz or Barfusserplatz early (3am-ish) to bag yourself the best vantage point.
Pick up some Mehlsuppe (a traditional flour soup) to keep yourself warm.